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How to Start a Daycare in Texas

Navigating childcare provider licensing requirements in Texas.

How to Start a Daycare in Texas

How to Start a Daycare in Texas

Starting a daycare center in Texas can greatly impact your local community. Before opening for business, you must meet specific licensing requirements to open and operate a preschool or daycare center at home or in a commercial facility. 

This guide will explain the licensing requirements to start a childcare center in Texas.

Do I need a childcare license in Texas?

The state of Texas requires all childcare providers to obtain a childcare license before operating. Depending on the type of childcare center you open, you’ll need an official license, a listing permit, or a registration permit. 

Texas Health and Human Services manages and regulates Texas childcare licensing. This department ensures childcare providers meet state health and safety standards. 

Your four licensing options include the following:

  • Licensed Child Care Home
  • Registered Child Care Home
  • Listed Family Home
  • Licensed Child Care Center

Licensed Child Care Home

Your daycare will fall under this category if you provide care to seven to 12 children ages 13 or younger for at least two hours, but less than 24 hours per day, for three or more days a week in the primary caregiver’s home.

Registered Child Care Home

To qualify for this license, you must provide care in the primary caregiver’s home. You can care for up to six children ages 13 and younger, and you can also care for six additional school-aged children during after-school hours. No more than 12 children can be in your home anytime, including the caregiver’s children.

You must provide care for at least four hours per day for three or more days out of the week for three or more consecutive weeks. An alternative is to open four hours daily for 40 or more days within 12 months.  

Listed Family Home

You qualify for this license if you provide care for up to three unrelated children in the primary caregiver’s home for at least four hours per day, three or more days per week, for three or more consecutive weeks. Alternatively, you qualify for this type of license if you provide care for children for four hours per day for 40 or more days in 12 months. 

Licensed Child Care Center

This is the only license option if you provide care outside the home. You may refer to it as a preschool, childcare center, after-school, or school-age program, among other variations. You can provide care for seven or more children under 14 years old. The center must be open at least two hours per day, three days per week; however, you can’t offer overnight services.

Childcare licensing requirements in Texas

Your licensing requirements may vary depending on the type of childcare facility you’re opening. Here's an overview of the state’s licensing requirements. 

Licensed and Registered Child Care Home licensing requirements 

  • Must be at least 21 years old
  • High school diploma or GED equivalent
  • Meet specific educational requirements
  • Have a certificate of completion of the licensing pre-application course dated within one year of the application date
  • Meet background check requirements
  • Hold a certification in pediatric first aid and pediatric CPR
  • Obtain liability insurance coverage
  • Meet all other requirements as outlined by Texas Health and Human Services

Listed Family Home licensing requirements

  • The primary caregiver must be at least 18 years old
  • Meet background check requirements
  • Obtain liability insurance coverage
  • Meet all other requirements as outlined by Texas Health and Human Services

Licensed Child Care Center licensing requirements

  • Director must be 21 years of age and meet specific educational requirements
  • Meet background check requirements
  • Obtain liability insurance coverage
  • Meet all other requirements as outlined by Texas Health and Human Services

Childcare license application in Texas

To obtain a childcare license in Texas, you must complete all steps in the application process. Below you’ll find a detailed outline of what to expect whether you want to open a home or center-based program.

Home-based center application process

Step 1: Attend a child care home pre-application class

You’re required to attend a pre-application training online. You can contact your local childcare regulation office to get more information on classes scheduled in your area. Once you complete all training modules you will receive a certificate which needs to be included with your application.

Step 2: Learn the childcare licensing requirements

Upon completing the pre-application course, you’ll receive additional information regarding the application process and forms to complete. You must learn all the licensing requirements before moving forward. 

Step 3: Create an online childcare regulation account

Before submitting your license application, you’ll create an online childcare regulation account through Texas Health and Human Services. Doing so will allow you to submit your application and any required documentation. 

Step 4: Submit your application and fees

The final step is to submit your application online. After submission, a Texas childcare licensure member will contact you to review your application status, answer questions, and provide you with an operation number. Once your application is approved, your operation number will become your business license number.

Childcare center application process

Step 1: Attend a licensed center pre-application class

The first step is to attend a licensed center pre-application training online or contact your local child care regulation office for classes scheduled in your area. You’ll learn pertinent information related to your application and receive forms to submit. Once you complete all training modules you will receive a certificate that will need to be included when you submit your application.

Step 2: Learn the childcare licensing requirements 

Upon completing the pre-application course, you’ll receive additional information regarding the application process and forms to complete. You must learn all the licensing requirements before moving forward. 

Step 3: Submit your application and fees

Submit your application to your local childcare regulation office. Contact your local office with questions regarding the requirements or how to complete your application correctly. 

Step 4: Create your online account

When your application is accepted, you’ll receive an operation number for your childcare center. Then you can create your online childcare provider account. With this online system, you can easily submit any necessary forms or update information regarding your childcare center. Once your application moves to approval status, your operation number will become your license number.

Receiving your childcare license is just the start of your journey to owning a daycare center. Soon it’ll be time to think about other tasks needed to manage the ins and outs of your business. A tool like brightwheel’s center management software helps you streamline enrollment, access child and staff records, and scale when you’re ready.

How to stay compliant with a daycare license in Texas

In addition to writing a daycare business plan and implementing marketing strategies, you’ll also need to ensure you keep your permit or license up to date.

Licensed Child Care Home

A license is issued to most types of daycare operations including Licensed Child Care Homes.  As long as you meet all minimum standards, you’ll have a full permit which remains in effect for two years until renewal.

Registered Child Care Home

A registration is issued to Registered Child Care Homes. This permit must be renewed every two years. 

Listed Family Home

A listing is issued to Listed Family Homes. Your listing will remain active as long as you pay the annual renewal fee of $20.

Licensed Child Care Center

A license is issued to most types of daycare operations including Licensed Child Care Centers. Your license is valid for two years and must be renewed to remain active.

Start your daycare in Texas

Before starting a daycare center in Texas, you’ll need to determine which license is right for your business. Review the specific requirements and application process to have all the information you need to navigate licensing requirements. With careful planning, you’ll be on your way to managing a successful childcare business.

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